In January of 1972 the Garvey family of Buffalo lost their 13-year old son, Kevin, to his 18-month fight against leukemia. As a tribute to Kevin, the Garveys opened America’s first healthcare hospitality house, the Kevin Guest House at 782 Ellicott Street, paving the way for more than 600 similar houses across the country and around the world. For 43 years now Kevin Guest House has been a safe and supportive home away from home for patients and families traveling to receive state of the art healthcare and treatment in Buffalo area hospitals and medical centers.
Since its inception, three additional properties have been added to offer continued support to families. The fourth house is located at 766 Ellicott Street where volunteers from Leadership Buffalo Class of 2015 have begun light demolition. This marks the beginning of renovations that will allow Kevin Guest House to expand and double its service capacity.
Because of the involvement of volunteers, a significant cost savings will be realized allowing donations to the expansion to be used for reconstruction of the property while preserving the historical value of this landmark home. According to Leadership Buffalo CEO Althea Luehrson, “Anything we can do to make Buffalo better, we are proud to be part of. We are fortunate to have Kevin Guest House in our community and glad to be able to help the organization save a considerable amount of money through our volunteer activities so that they (Keven Guest House) can spend their money on patients, and continue with their mission.” Leadership Buffalo’s Class of 2015 who have committed to Kevin Guest House will continue their support of the organization through various volunteer efforts over time.
According to Kevin Guest House Executive Director Lynsey Weaver, Kevin Guest House has enabled Buffalo’s medical community to change the way they treat their patients. For example, bone marrow transplant patients require routine treatments for 100 days following a transplant, at which point remission is considered complete. Kevin Guest House allows for patients who come from around the country, and their families, to remain nearby to receive the necessary treatments to allow for full remission. The availability of the house to serve as a safe and convenient respite during the process is a blessing to all parties involved, including medical caregivers who can rely on the fact that patients will remain for the duration of their treatment.
The expansion at 766 Ellicott will provide much needed handicap accessibility which had not been previously available to guests, and had resulted in turning away approximately 400 families per year.
The expansion at 766 Ellicott will provide much needed handicap accessibility which had not been previously available to guests, and had resulted in turning away approximately 400 families per year. Not only does this improvement accommodate handicapped families, but older individuals as well. The 7,800 square foot addition will add four additional suites with private bathrooms and two transplant apartments along with three to four common areas, including a kitchen, dining area, and sitting area(s).
Demolition is targeted to begin this April with an anticipated completion date of Spring, 2017. The $3 million project has half of its funds raised, and the organization is always looking for fundraising opportunities from the community. The volunteer demolition project by Leadership Buffalo is just one example. More opportunities to get involved are available on an individual or group level, and range from hands-on tasks like painting and dry-walling to monetary donations. Weaver says that group volunteer projects help the organization tremendously and are a great way to introduce people to the organization and learn more about what Kevin Guest House does. Easy ways for businesses to get involved are company wide “dress-down days” for a monetary donation, or providing group dinners or cleaning at the house.
Kevin Guest House is also in need of materials and donations for its expansion at 766 Ellicott Street, construction supplies are greatly appreciated at this time, as well as other items. Their wish list includes:
- Dry wall
- Paint and painting supplies
- Household supplies
- Art work
- Carpet squares
- Furniture, including queen, double, and twin beds/frames
- Bed linens (white only for cleaning purposes)
- Appliances including stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves
To find out more about Kevin Guest House, to make a monetary donation, donate an item from their wish list, or get involved go to www.kevinguesthouse.org.